Thursday, March 18, 2010

(Un)fit to serve

Mistress Rielle Hunter's photos in GQ magazine has dragged the John Edwards affair back into the news.  (For which Tiger Woods must be grateful.) Now turncoat Andrew Young gets another 15 seconds to shill his book and wring out the remnants of media interest.

I find it interesting that Young's betrayal of Edward's trust has not drawn the same consternation as Edward's betrayal of his wife's trust.  It could be that Elizabeth Edward's ongoing battle with cancer makes her a particularly sympathetic victim, or that most people believe that trust between friends carries less weight than trust between spouses. (I hope none of my friends think that.) Either way, Andrew Young is as much a crud as John Edwards.  He was complicit in John Edward's affair, went to great lengths to try to cover it up, then at the first opportunity sought to benefit financially from it. I wouldn't let him sell me a car.

The other interesting aspect of the story is how appalled people are at how close the cheating bastard came to being president.  America has a long tradition of using a morality ruler to determine political fitness. A candidate or incumbent is far more likely to lose constituent support for stepping outside the parameters of acceptable social behaviors than for his/her agenda or political record. If DNA testing had existed then, revered President Thomas Jefferson (and author of the Declaration of Independence) would have been ousted over his affair with Sally Hemmings, which he had denied.  In recent weeks former Reps. Eric Massa and Hiram Monserrate, both of New York, found themselves out of favor and out of office for groping male aides and for roughing up a girlfriend respectively. Their voting records and platform mattered little.

But is someone inclined to an affair, or other socially-inappropriate behavior, incapable of carrying out the functions of political office?  Thousands of financially successful corporations are lead by men and women whose morality is considered far less important than their effectiveness on the bottom line.  With mid-term elections coming in November and the balance of government up for grabs, horns will lock and dirt will fly on the campaign trails. We must focus on the issues though. And the issues are big: jobs, the economy, manufacturing, education, and responsible energy use and production. We have to be a responsible electorate.  We must refuse to be fed a stream of information that has no bearing on progress and growth. We must be knowledgeable about the factors that affect us, our families, and our communities and know which candidate's agenda will serve us best. I would vote for John Edwards if he were running in my constituency. I wouldn't marry him or introduce him to my sister, but I agree with his stance on the issues that most affect me. That's what  most important.

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